What Facebook knows about love, in numbers

2014-02-14 22:15
(Marcio Jose Sanchez, AP)

(Marcio Jose Sanchez, AP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

New York - With 1.23 billion users in all the flavours and up-and-down stages of romantic relationships, Facebook knows a thing or two about love.

For example, two people who are about to enter a relationship interact more and more on Facebook in the weeks leading up to making their coupled status official - up until 12 days before the start of the relationship, when they share an average of 1.67 posts per day.

Then, their Facebook interactions start to decline - presumably because they are spending more time together offline. But while they interact less, couples are more likely to express positive emotions toward their each other once they are in a relationship, researchers on Facebook's data science team found.

Touching on everything from religion to age differences, Facebook has been disclosing such light-hearted findings in a series of blog posts this week, with one coming up later on Friday and another, on breakups, Saturday. Friday, of course, is Valentine's Day.

Facebook data scientist Mike Develin, whose background is in mathematics, notes that the relationship stuff is sort a side project for his team, the findings geared more toward academic papers than Facebook's day-to-day business. His "day job" is Facebook's search function - how people use it, what they are searching for that isn't available and how to make it more useful.

But the patterns Facebook's researchers can detect help illustrate just how useful the site's vast trove of data can be in mapping human interactions and proving or disproving assumptions about relationships. Can horoscopes predict lasting love? Forget about it.

"We have such a wide-ranging set of data, including on places there may not be data on otherwise," Develin said, adding that because Facebook knows a lot about people's authentic identity, there are "almost no boundaries" to the kinds of questions the researchers can explore - about the structure of society, culture and how people interact.

Someday, researchers studying Facebook data may be able to predict whether a couple will break up, learn whether people are happy together or see what makes relationships last. Of course, the data has its limits - not everyone is on Facebook and not every Facebook user shares everything on the site.

Sweet

Still, people share quite a bit. When looking at breakups through the lens of changed relationship statuses (see: "Joe Doe is single"), the researchers found couples who split up and got back together - and dutifully documented it on Facebook - 10 or 15 times a year.

The maximum, Develin, recalls, was a couple who went in and out of a relationship 27 times in one year. While one may assume that a couple wouldn't want to broadcast so much relationship drama to the world, people actually "very faithfully update Facebook at each twist and turn," he says.

Facebook's researchers use aggregated, anonymised data from hundreds of millions of users on the site. This means that while they see information such as age, location, gender, a person's relationship status, for example, such data is not tied back to a specific person.

It was in a study of 18 million anonymised Facebook posts exchanged by 462 000 Facebook couples that researchers delved into how "sweet" couples are to one another on the social networking site.

"For each timeline interaction, we counted the proportion of words expressing positive emotions (like 'love,' 'nice,' 'happy," etc.) minus the proportion of words expressing negative ones (like 'hate,' 'hurt,' 'bad,' etc.)," writes Facebook data scientist Carlos Diuk in Friday's blog post. The data is plotted on a graph, which shows a visible, general increase in the proportion of warm fuzzy feelings right at the start of a relationship.

- AP
Read more on:    facebook  |  us  |  privacy
NEXT ON NEWS24X
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
1 comment
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
/News
 

Joburg hot spots for cocktails, craft beer, tapas and wine!

It’s the season to be jolly – so we’ve rounded up some new Joburg hot spots!

 
 

I love summer.24

Summer Survey!
Great ideas for the best summer sandwiches!
Christmas lingerie to make this festive season the best one ever!
13 things you might not know about Disneyland

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

2DAYS ONLY – 30% off Appliances

Coffee makers, blenders, fans, juicers and more. T&Cs apply. Shop now!

2 DAYS ONLY – 40% off books

Get 40% off when you buy 2 books. For two days only! T&Cs apply. Buy now!

Up to 50% off on outdoor gear

Save on chairs, blankets, cooler bags, umbrellas and more. Shop now!

Save on Samsung

Cameras, mobile phones, TVs, Tablets and more. While stocks last. Shop now!

Grand Theft Auto 5

Now available on PS4, Xbox One and PC from R649. Buy now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

At last you are able to see the light. You are able to break through obstacles in an innovative and original way. Visualisation is...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.